Consideration of the issue of subsidiary liability for the owner and the board of directors of the Saratov defense plant “Tantal” reached the district arbitration and collapsed back to the first instance.
The arguments of the regional court and 12 ААС that only the difficult economic situation is to blame for the problems of the enterprise were not accepted in Kazan. The issue must be re-examined. Now, when a week after the decision was made public, the reasoning part, it became clear what exactly did not suit the Volga District Arbitration Court.
By filing a petition for a subsidy, the bankruptcy trustee Anatoly Dokukin rested primarily on a number of suspicious transactions of the debtor. Tantal actively sold its property, including to affiliated companies. In addition, the manager pointed out that the management of the plant was obliged to file for bankruptcy itself after Tantal was bogged down in financial problems, and not to wait for creditors to do so.
Finally, as was indicated in the arguments to the cassation appeal, the previous instances did not evaluate the financial analysis of the debtor’s financial statements. It also clearly shows that his solvency at the beginning of 2018 left much to be desired.
As the district court concluded, in the period from September 2002 to June 2019, the composition of the controlling persons of the plant did not change, Alexander Lyashenko headed the Board of Directors, Alexander Solopov – the plant itself, Vadim Ivankov and Natalya Lyashok were members of the board. The court of first instance did not find in their refusal to file for bankruptcy either malicious intent or attempts to deliberately hide the deplorable financial condition of the enterprise.
In particular, previous courts did not find anything wrong with the fact that a month before the initiation of the bankruptcy case, Tantal and Tantal-Shield, 40% owned by Ivankov, signed a settlement agreement, as a result of which Tantal-Shield received the property of the plant for price below the market, knowing about the actual insolvency of the debtor. The manager failed to challenge this deal in Saratov. Similar refusals were issued by the first and appeal instances for other transactions that the bankruptcy judge considered suspicious.
The Court of Cassation, however, saw the situation differently. As the cassation concluded, it is possible not to involve only Natalya Lyashok in the subsidy. But Lyashenko, Solopov and Ivankov still bear responsibility for the state of the plant. According to the conclusions of the cassation court, the previous instances did not take into account, for example, that Solopov was involved in a criminal case under Part 1 of Article 176 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation – providing knowingly false information about the financial situation of the organization. By submitting this untrue information, he achieved the allocation of loans to the plant for a total of 1.1 billion rubles, which Tantal could no longer repay.
In addition, the court in Kazan pointed out that, in evaluating the arguments of the bankruptcy trustee regarding Tantal’s suspicious transactions, the previous courts did not verify the existence of causal links between these transactions and the subsequent bankruptcy of the debtor. All this needs to be studied again, therefore the issue was sent for re-consideration to the Arbitration Court of the Saratov Region. It is too early for other business participants to relax.